We recently came across a unique game titled ‘LEAP DAY’ that was launched on iOS platform and got in touch with the developers of this fun game. Here is our interview with Matthew Annal, Managing Director of Nitrome, where we get an in-depth glimpse at this game and some interesting aspects of game development:
Tell us a bit about LEAP DAY and what was it that inspired you to make this game?
We wanted to try and make a game have good retention. A lot of games we’re giving a prize every day of free coins. We thoughts that didn’t really work on us so we posed the question of what it would have to be to work. We decided it would have to be a new level and one that felt sufficiently fresh and varied to not be boring. Once we agreed this was a compelling concept it became the hard task of working out how to make it happen.
Naming a game is almost always one of the most difficult tasks since that’s what people identify it with. Was Leap Day the first choice for the name? If not then what were some other options you were looking at?
The game was actually nameless for a long time. We had it in a folder called Plastic Parade for months and months and verbally it was mostly just called ‘the jumping game’. Usually names are easy if there is a unique mechanic in the game which we often have but in this case it was more the meta game.
I think we were showing it to some people at Apple at once point and it was coming up to a Leap Years Feb 29th. I’m not sure who said it but the suggestion of Leap Day came up during that meeting and it just seemed the right name. It was a shame we couldn’t have launched it for that Leap Day…we missed it by a few months 🙂
The artwork of this game is simply gorgeous. What sort of thought process went behind that?
We have been making games for many years and a lot of our fans kept asking for a game that looked like our classic games which had a colourful Mario vibe. We were keen to explore it at some point so it was on our mind. Also with this game we were very aware was going to be content heavy and require building lots of levels, enemies and traps. The style was designed to be easy to work with so characters are not overly textured and so easy to animate. Background detail is kept to the background layers and off the tiles to make level building quick and the tiles are kept to two sets of 9 unique tiles per theme to make both level building quick and theme design easier.
The game looks bright and colourful and could be seen by some as just indulging a fandom for retro games but it was actually quite considered.
What was the major challenge in developing this game?
Balancing and Content. As the game was a fairly fresh concept we didn’t have anything to reference for what would be an enjoyable daily level. It took a lot of iteration and debate to find what we felt was the right balance. Content was the biggest thing though. At launch we had 10 themes and probably 80+ elements to play. Then the biggest of all was making over 1000 level chunks to generate the levels from…we had the whole Nitrome team help out on that one!
Any in-game secrets that could be easter eggs for players to discover?
One of the sound tracks in the game is a remix from an old game we made! There are quite a few secret things in there but as a lot of them are dev toolish I can’t really tell them…well maybe one. If you set your phone date back to before the games release there are some extra days that exist before launch!
Will there be any addition or exciting new updates for the game in the near future?
Thanks to the game being a big success we have constantly been adding content since launch just over 2 years ago. We now have double the themes we launched with all with their own bespoke elements and triple the number of level chunks.
We also added unlockable characters, a bonus game and power ups all of which were not there at launch! We have many more ideas for things we want to add so watch this space and keep playing 🙂
How much time did it take to get this game developed and what can players expect in updates for this game?
It took around a year to make. Most of that was with two people but we bulked up to 4 for a few months later in development and had the whole team of around 10 of us building levels at the end. We have had 2-4 people supporting it constantly since launch.
What are your future plans as a game developer?
Not surprisingly to make more games. We are about to launch our first console game ‘Bomb Chicken’ on the Nintendo Switch. We will have more mobile games on the way too so watch this space 🙂
How long have you been developing games and what is the most enjoyable aspect of game development according to you?
Nitrome has been around for 14 years so quite a long time! The most enjoyable part every time is seeing the ideas come to life and seeing a great reaction to something you have poured months of love and sweat into.
How many people worked on the development of this game and any interesting dev stories?
Around 12 people have had their hand in Leap Day to varying degrees. Interestingly the key team members before Leap Day had worked on our game Magic Touch which was our biggest success at that point. As the game went on there became a real pressure to finish the game and potentially make a sequel to that game.
I don’t think we had high hopes that it would be a huge success for us. Ironically it went on to become far larger than Magic Touch.
What are your personal favourite games?
Any of the Mario games are a huge influence. On the more indie side I loved Minit and Shovel Knight. On mobile the most stand out game to me recently has been Part Time UFO which I highly recommend!
Any message for our readers?
Leap Day has a new level every day so at this point there are more than 2 years worth of levels in the game. You might think that’s too many levels for anyone to stick with but you would be surprised as we get videos every day of people showing they have done them all. So clearly it’s very sticky…try it yourself and see 😉